Five Ways to Tell One Story-Roman Palanski

7 11 2009

70s Sex Scandal Finally Resolved….Almost

Sex scandals have always managed to grab the media’s attention on various outlets. For whatever reason sex has appeared to sale. This has been a topic that has always remained in the news in various settings. There is a Web site dedicated solely to presidential sex scandals and we have all heard about sex offender cases such as in the instance of Phillip Garrido and young Jaycee Lee Lugard that have caused media frenzies. This is why the world wide spread of the 70s sex scandal of Roman Polanski which has recently led to Polanski’s arrest is not a shock at all. What is a shock is how the same story has managed to be told differently by so many different media outlets. After examining this same event through five unique media outlets it is clear that each source has its own objectives in choosing how they relate messages to their audiences and has created a plan to ensure that their objectives get met.

In 1977 Roman Polanski a Frenchman and world renowned director and award pled guilty to having sex with a 13 year-old girl. He was also charged with giving drugs and alcohol to 13 year-old Samantha Geimer, however he pled not guilty to those charges. Fearful that he would have to spend more time in jail after the 42 days that he had already served Polanski left the United States and remained in a game of cat and mouse where he lived in exile for 32 years until recently when he was finally arrested in Switzerland by United States authorities. Now the topic at debate is if Polanski can be found guild as a result of an extradition treaty between the US and Switzerland if at the dismay of France.

In a New York Times article the case of Polanski is reported with minimal bias. While there is evidence that supports the belief that the writer of the article believes that Polanski is guilty of raping Samantha Geimer, who is labeled as a “victim” it is clear that most of the article consists solely of factual accounts of what allegedly happened, what has been happening since Polanski fled the United States in an attempt of resisting arrest and what will occur if he is put on trial and found guilty. The article also focused on the successful career of Polanski noting many of his award winning films. There is even a quote from the French culture minister, Frédérc Mitterrand, who commented favorably on Polanski.

The Charlotte Observer focuses the article much differently than the previous article. While the New York Times article does not mention the possibility of bail for Polanski this is the main topic in the Charlotte Observer. This article also calls Samantha Geimer a victim, but manages to mention how she “joined in Polanski’s bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement”. This article also mentions the possibility of manipulation in the Polanski’s 1978 case. The Associated Press who distributed this story to the Charlotte Observer does not include any quotes from people speaking favorable about Polanski there are generalized quotes which just add to the facts presented from the article. The focus of this article is different from the focus of the New York Times article; however there are many other ways to tell this shocking tale.

Al Jazeera English, the Doha, Qatar headquartered 24-hour English language and current affairs news channel presented the story of the Polanski arrest much different from the previous sources. This condensed version of the story talks about what happened and the shock that was associated it by the arrest of Polanski for the directors of the Zurich film festival that Polanski was attending in Switzerland when he was arrested. The article briefly talks about the events 32 years ago that led to the arrest of Polanski and also mentions that Greimer has shown support for Polanski’s case to be dropped after the settlement that she received. There is also a short section which lists the many honors that Polanski has received as a result of his films that he created. This article kept all three aspects of the story separate unlike the other two articles which managed to combine the articles. The delivery of print news is often different from the delivery of television and radio news.

In a CNN Video Embedded video from CNN VideoFredricka Whitfield and criminal defense attorney, Steve Corn discuss the implementations of Polanski now that he has been detained by Swiss authorities in an interview setting. While this median of media tells a similar story it tells it from the perspective of Polanski and what caused him to flee America. It talks about the malpractice that was handled in by the judge and the district attorney of the case. This is one of the few instances that look at things from the view point of Polanski and even questions the American judicial system, although corn did not shy away from using the term “child molester”. The television medium is easier to comprehend to the average person and the screen shots make it more appealing and enticing to tune into it. This CNN interview could be the median that many people use to form their opinion. The conversational tone of radio can often get the same reaction as TV although it is not as enticing.

Using a recording of past movies and quotes from several authority figures NPR Radio News gave an account of the case of Polanski’s case. Unlike the other media sources Greimer is never portrayed as a victim, although his movies are described as being “provocative and often brutal” which gives the listener an idea of his character. This presents some bias to the story although this is the only time a bias is presented in this broadcast. Legal professionals are interviewed to give the listener and idea of what implications Polanski is currently facing. This source is informative with little opinion or ideologies of the stations

The news is often like a game of telephone that school children play. You start with one story and by the time it gets to the last person there is a completely different story. While doing research on this story I found publications that placed Polanski and Greimer at a party, when in actuality the setting was a photo shoot. While drugs and alcohol have been said to be involved some stories to do not report this information. It is often interesting to get a grasp of all the things media report, which is why it is imperative to get news from multiple sources to make sure you are getting the true story.

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